George Maponga in Masvingo
Plans to fully utilise Tugwi-Mukosi Dam, the country’s largest inland water body, have gathered momentum with the Development Trust of Zimbabwe (DTZ) finalising a deal with private investors to a greenbelt covering 10 000 hectares in Mwenezi.
The main crop that will be grown on the greenbelt will be sugar. This comes as President Mnangagwa’s administration has been pulling all stops to make sure Tugwi-Mukosi is fully utilised to anchor economic growth in Masvingo and the nation at large through large scale crop production under irrigation.
Tugwi-Mukosi has capacity to irrigate more than 25 000ha in southern Masvingo but the reservoir has largely remained underutilised since its commissioning in May 2017 due to the absence of a master plan.
Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister Ezra Chadzamira yesterday said that DTZ was close to signing a deal for the development of the greenbelt. The National Oil Infrastructure Company of Zimbabwe (NOIC) is one of the investors. “The planned greenbelt will cover 10 000ha and overlap into both State and DTZ land. We have been having talks on the deal and we hope to finalise it soon,” said Minister Chadzamira. “This deal is part of ongoing efforts to make sure water in Tugwi-Mukosi is utilised to drive economic growth in Masvingo and beyond. The planned greenbelt will be developed by NOIC and another investor and we expect everything to be in place soon.”
Minister Chadzamira pointed out that NOIC would specialise in sugar cane production under irrigation while the other unnamed investor will grow other undisclosed crops.
People in adjacent communities will benefit through being contracted as out growers while the investment will also create direct jobs.
“NOIC will grow cane to produce ethanol, which will be used for blending fuel and this move will lead to an increase in national ethanol production and help reduce the fuel import bill.”